2 LEOs seek sheriff’s position
Two law enforcement officers are vying for Harrison County sheriff in the Nov. 6 General Election. Republican Nick Smith and Democrat Brad Shepherd won their party’s nomination in the spring against one opponent. The winner will succeed Republican Rod Seelye, who is completing his second four-year term and is unable to run again due to term limits. Shepherd and Smith’s responses to a questionnaire from this newspaper appear below.
Name and residency: Brad Shepherd, Ramsey
Family: Wife, Vanessa; daughter, Natalie; sons, Gunner and Maverick
Education: North Harrison High School (graduate of the class of 1990); Vincennes University 1992-1994 (majored in criminal justice); Indiana University Southeast 1994-1997 (business); Southern Police Institute 2013 (Administrative Officers Course and Police Executive Leadership Undergraduate Program)
Occupation: Employed with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. for 19-1/2 years. I currently hold the rank of captain, which I was promoted to 12 years ago.
Political experience: Ran for sheriff in 2010
Contact information for voters: 812-596-0400; on Facebook Brad Shepherd for Sheriff
Why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 100 words or less)? Chris (Walden) and I have provided a greater number of years of service to Harrison County. We have worked through many bi-partisan sheriffs. I earned the credentials to reach the highest merited position in 19-1/2 years by hard work and dedication to our community. I’ve handled every facet of the sheriff’s department at some point in my career. I’ve witnessed the good, bad and indecent that comes with being sheriff. I possess the qualities of mild temperament, good morals, honesty and knowledge of how to work well with other agencies, my peers, all is required of a good sheriff.
In the past, the Harrison County Sheriff ’s Dept. has served as a training ground, with officers gaining experience then leaving for other agencies where the pay is better. However, recent pay increases for road officers has helped, but corrections officers are still making less than their counterparts in other counties. If elected, what would you do to help retain officers (both those on the road and in the jail) (in 125 words or less)? Having worked in that environment throughout my career, I understand the challenges they are faced with. Sometimes the perception is that our inmates are treated better than the employees tasked with their care. While this issue isn’t always seen by the public as a limelight topic, it is important to the morale and functionality of the department. Throwing money at this situation is not going to fix the issue; however, I think changing the environment through leadership is a start. Both Chris and myself have an extensive knowledge of the jail and its operations and plan on leading by example in a hands-on approach. What good is any accreditation without good morale to make it functional.
The sheriff ’s department used to have a strong reserve officer program that saved taxpayers thousands of dollars annually. Now, there are just a handful of volunteers left in the program. Do you think there is a role in Harrison County for reserve officers? Explain your position in 125 words or less, with emphasis on whether or not you would rebuild the program. Early in my career, I was a reserve officer for the Town of Lanesville; because of that, I understand the importance of their role in the law enforcement community. I want to restore the pride and tradition back into the reserve uniform not only for their role in my administration, but also for the community. The role of the reserve body is crucial for public safety at community events all while saving taxpayer dollars.
If elected, what will be your top priority your first year in office (in 100 words or less)? Day one in my administration, the sheriff’s role will include respecting people who wear the law enforcement uniform. The opinions of others will be welcomed so that working together will better us as a team with the hopes that it boosts the morale within the law enforcement community and gains cohesion amongst all working uniforms. This, in turn, will work toward the betterment of the department for the benefit of the community and will get us back to the basics of local law enforcement.
Name and residency: Nick Smith, Harrison County
Family: Wife, Kimberly Smith; children, Gavin, Andrew and Trinity
Education: 20 years of law enforcement experience in Harrison County; over 2,000 hours of law enforcement training; graduate of Corydon Central High School; graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy; graduate of the Southern Police Institute’s Homicide School; graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia (Class 255); Modern Law Enforcement Leadership/University of Virginia; Labor Law/Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement Administration/University of Virginia; Law Enforcement Media Relations/University of Virginia; Physical Fitness in Law Enforcement/University of Virginia; Statement Analysis/University of Virginia; Interview and Interrogation/University of Virginia; Less Lethal Munitions/University of Virginia; Certified Forensic Examiner of Cellular Devices/Electronic Mobile Devices; Certified Forensic Interviewer; Indiana Law Enforcement Academy Certified Instructor
Occupation: Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. — Lieutenant of Investigations, Public Information Officer and System Administrator for police, fire, EMS, jail and Emergency 911 Dispatch’s Records Management System; United States Secret Service — Electronic Crimes Task Force Officer; Indiana Southeastern Regional SWAT — Precision Marksmen (sniper/observer); Multidisciplinary Team Member/Crimes Against Children
Political experience: None
Contact information for voters: My personal cell phone — 812-972-2544
Why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 100 words or less)? Once elected, I will immediately implement a mandatory physical fitness program. Poor physical fitness not only reduces an officer’s effectiveness when engaging in critical incident response, but increases a safety risk to both the officers and the community. Due to the fundamental and essential physical aspects of the law enforcement job, I believe that there’s no room for a sedentary lifestyle when chosen to protect our children, property and way of life. The is just one example of how I will continue to provide a higher standard of law enforcement to every citizen of this county.
In the past, the Harrison County Sheriff ’s Dept. has served as a training ground, with officers gaining experience then leaving for other agencies where the pay is better. However, recent pay increases for road officers has helped, but corrections officers are still making less than their counterparts in other counties. If elected, what would you do to help retain officers (both those on the road and in the jail) (in 125 words or less)? Thanks to community support and the county council, our police officers now receive a honest and reasonable salary for their services. Since this increase, no officer has left our agency in search of higher pay. Correctional staff in jails across the country have a very high turnover rate regardless of pay. I have found that there are many other ways to foster long-term employment within the jail. We currently have several employees of the jail working to build their career in law enforcement. I, along with a half dozen other police officers, began our careers in the jail with an average 2 to 4 years of service before transferring out. Recruiting similar applicants proves to be one of many viable solutions to increase employee retention.
The sheriff ’s department used to have a strong reserve officer program that saved taxpayers thousands of dollars annually. Now, there are just a handful of volunteers left in the program. Do you think there is a role in Harrison County for reserve officers? Explain your position in 125 words or less, with emphasis on whether or not you would rebuild the program. I am a strong supporter of our reserve officer program. My grandfather, Bob Bennett, was a reserve police officer for our sheriff’s department throughout the entirety of my childhood, a time when our county had very few full-time officers. Many fine men and women have since dedicated time away from their families to play the role as volunteer police officers and/or firemen. Unfortunately, modern technology, training and liability of the job has limited the volunteer pool nationwide. Each volunteer applicant must meet rigorous standards to be a viable candidate, entrusted with the health and safety of our community. In order to ensure the physical safety along with limited liability for our taxpayers, these standards cannot be neglected.
If elected, what will be your top priority your first year in office (in 100 words or less)? Radio communication coverage is a safety issue many citizens may be unaware of. We have numerous areas of the county where our police, fire and EMS can’t communicate at all. This is extremely dangerous for all involved and must take priority. The implementation of body-worn cameras is another priority for continued transparency between the community and its chosen law enforcement professionals. The use of these devices protect all parties involved. Device and digital storage costs have dramatically decreased while product reliability and functionality has increased. I will remain committed to providing a community-based transparent law enforcement agency.